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Legislators Request Audit of Commission That Revoked CCSF's Accreditation

The regional panel that decided last month to revoke the accreditation of City College of San Francisco effective next year is now under increased review itself after state legislators Wednesday approved a request to audit the organization.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges will be the subject of the audit requested by state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, a member of the bipartisan Joint Legislative Audit Committee, which approved the request.

The ACCJC announced last month that City College would lose its accreditation at the end of July 2014.

The school is appealing the decision and is hoping to maintain accreditation by addressing recommendations made by the commission and making changes to its governance structure and finances.

However, the accrediting commission has already come under fire from the U.S. Department of Education, which last week issued a letter finding fault with the ACCJC's accrediting process for City College.

The letter mentioned a possible conflict of interest by having the commission's president's husband on an evaluation team for the school, as well as having a lack of faculty members on evaluation teams and providing vague instructions for compliance.

Now comes the pending state audit, which is expected to take about six months to complete.

Beall said in a statement that the audit was necessary because the ACCJC "virtually operates unfettered with little to no oversight, yet its decisions have a direct impact on the world's biggest system of higher education with over 2 million students."

He said, "The public and the Legislature deserves to understand how this commission makes and arrives at decisions that affects the futures of so many Californians."

State Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, who joined Beall in the audit request, said the commission "has overreached their authority and has not been forthcoming in their decision-making process.

According to Beall's office, members of the ACCJC's evaluating teams were allegedly instructed to destroy documents related to their reviews of community colleges after the commission has recently come under fire.

"Instead of serving the needs of college students, the commission is busy manipulating outdated regulations and shredding documents to prevent their disclosure," Nielsen said.

Representatives with the ACCJC were not immediately available to comment on the pending audit and allegations by the state legislators.

Police Say Drivers Should Plan Ahead for Bay Bridge Closure 

Motorists should use common sense, remain calm and plan ahead when the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is closed next week for construction work on its new eastern span before it is reopened on the morning of Sept. 3, law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

California Highway Patrol Officer Sam Morgan said, "We're asking motorists to obey all traffic laws, to be patient and to allow themselves more time to get to their destinations."

The Bay Bridge will be closed in both directions from 8 p.m. on Aug. 28, a week from Wednesday night, to 5 a.m. on Sept. 3, the day after Labor Day, to complete additional work in order to open the new eastern span to the driving public.

Morgan said motorists shouldn't try to pass CHP patrol cars when officers are in the process of closing the bridge because doing so would endanger CHP officers, Caltrans personnel and construction workers.

He said, "If some motorist tries to do something on their own, they will be contacted by the CHP."

Transportation officials are mounting a massive public information campaign to let people know that the bridge will be closed but Morgan said there are always some people who don't get the message and ask officers why the span isn't open.

"There are always a few people on another planet," Morgan said. "We get a lot of people who are from outside the area or who are on a different drumbeat."

He said drivers who usually use the Bay Bridge but plan to use other area bridges while the span is closed should learn about the geography in those other areas so they don't get lost.

CHP Officer Mike Ferguson said motorists should make sure they have a full tank of gas in case they get stuck in traffic while trying to use the Bay Bridge just before it closes and are suddenly forced to take an alternate route.

San Francisco police spokesman Albie Esparza and Oakland police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said their agencies will help the CHP during the bridge closure by having officers at the approaches on each side of the Bay Bridge.

In addition, Watson said the Oakland Police Department's marine unit will be available to help patrol the San Francisco Bay if there are emergencies. Watson said that after the new eastern span opens, Oakland police officers on bicycles will patrol the pedestrian walkway and bike path on the span.

Morgan said the CHP will also have bicycle officers patrolling the walkway and bike path.

BART Offering 24-Hour Train Service Dring Bay Bridge Closure Next Week 

With the Bay Bridge closing for up to five days starting next Wednesday, motorists will have to find alternate ways to get across the span.

To put in the final touches to ensure the new eastern span opens by Sept. 3, the entire bridge will shut down starting at 8 p.m. on Aug. 28.

The bridge is expected to open at 5 a.m. on Sept. 3 -- if not sooner.

During the shutdown, BART will be running 24-hour train service, there will be additional ferries, and other area bridges will be taking on extra motorists.

BART will run trains constantly through the night of Sept. 2.

Regular service will resume around 4 a.m. on Sept. 3.

Overnight service will be available hourly at 14 stations between the Concord and San Francisco International Airport stations and El Cerrito Del Norte and Dublin/Pleasanton stations.

Oakland's MacArthur Station will serve as a transfer point for both lines.

BART is anticipating heavy ridership during the bridge closure and will run longer trains.

During the 2009 Labor Day weekend closure ridership increased 30 percent, or an extra 230,000 passengers compared to the same five-day period from the year before.

On Labor Day BART will be on a Saturday schedule, and parking regulations will proceed as usual at all stations.

There will be free parking on Saturday, Sunday and the Monday holiday.

Alameda-Contra Costa Transit buses that normally carry passengers across the bridge will be diverting transbay bus riders to one of four BART stations, including the Coliseum, West Oakland, MacArthur, and North Berkeley stations, transit agency spokesman Clarence Johnson said.

The last AC-Transit bus will cross the Bay Bridge from San Francisco at 7:10 p.m. on Aug. 28 and once the bridge reopens normal service will resume, Johnson said.

AC Transit staff will be deployed at the four BART stations during the shutdown to assist passengers with altered travel logistics.

For those taking to the roads, regional traffic officials are advising drivers to allow extra time when taking other bridges such as the Golden Gate, Richmond-San Rafael, San Mateo-Hayward and Dumbarton bridges.

Those who need to get to Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island will be allowed with a special permit to access those areas from the San Francisco side.

Another transit option is taking a ferry, which will provide expanded service from Vallejo, Oakland, and Alameda into San Francisco.

The San Francisco Bay Ferry during the week will be running 10 boats instead of its usual eight, and on the weekend and Labor Day will have five boats instead of three, according to SF Bay Ferry spokesman Ernest Sanchez.

On some routes, such as those from Alameda to San Francisco, there will be boats available over the weekend and holiday when normally there is only weekday ferries, Sanchez said.

The bridge is closing to allow crews to pave, stripe lanes and put up barrier rails as part of finishing construction efforts for the $6.4 billion project.

Famous North Beach Strip Club 'Lusty Lady' to Close

A well-known strip club in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood has announced that it will shut its doors early next month.

A message posted on the Lusty Lady's Facebook page on Tuesday stated that the business was shutting down on Sept. 2 because of rent increases.

"It is with shaking hands & tear stained cheeks that I write to say, we just heard from our land lord, they will NOT agree to a new lease, they are closing our doors," the post read.

It was signed by "The Lusties."

The website for the club, located at 1033 Kearny St., touts the Lusty Lady as "the world's only unionized worker-owned peep show co-op," after its dancers voted to unionize in 1997 as a result of "random firings and pay cuts, ambiguous shift policies and other unsavory business."

The fight to unionize the Lusty Lady dancers was the subject of the 2000 documentary "Live Nude Girls Unite!"

Under a prior threat of closure in 2003, the dancers purchased the Lusty Lady and ran it as a co-op, but saw declining revenues in recent years as Internet pornography grew in popularity, according to its website.

The dancers wrote Tuesday on Facebook, "Please help us spread the word, and make it a glorious & glamorous two weeks!"

Former Baggage Handler Who Stole Property From Suitcases Must Pay Victims

A former United Airlines baggage handler at San Francisco International Airport who stole items from travelers' luggage after it had been checked must pay his victims more than $30,000 in restitution, a San Mateo County Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday.

George Reyes, 45, of San Francisco, pleaded no contest on Aug. 1 to felony embezzlement and theft, and was sentenced to six months in county jail and three years' supervised probation, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Wednesday, Reyes was ordered to pay a total of $32,366 in restitution to 21 victims.

The restitution amount for each victim ranged from $150 to $6,000.

Reyes was arrested after San Francisco police officers with the department's airport division conducted a sting operation in May in which they planted iPads and purses in luggage and placed GPS trackers on the items, prosecutors said.

The items were taken from the bags, and GPS trackers revealed that they were inside Reyes' car as he drove home from work the day of the sting, according to the district attorney's office.

United Airlines had received more than 50 complaints of personal property being stolen from checked luggage, and an investigation into the complaints showed that Reyes was working at the time of the thefts, according to prosecutors.

Reyes began serving his sentence on Aug. 1.

12-Year-Old Boy Robbed in Portola Neighborhood

A 12-year-old boy was robbed in San Francisco's Portola neighborhood on Tuesday evening, a police spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The robbery was reported shortly after 5 p.m. near Holyoke and Woolsey streets.

The boy was walking along the sidewalk when he encountered a man next to a car, police spokeswoman Officer Tracy Turner said.

The man demanded the boy's cellphone and wallet, and the boy was "so scared he didn't do anything," prompting the suspect to rifle through the boy's pockets and take his property, Turner said.

The suspect, described as between 20 and 30 years old, then got into a red four-door sedan occupied by three other people and the car drove away, according to Turner.

The boy was not injured in the robbery.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411 with "SFPD" in the message.

Weather Forecast for the San Francisco Bay Area 

Mostly cloudy skies and patchy fog are expected in the Bay Area this morning.

Highs are likely to be in the 50s to upper 60s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph.

Mostly cloudy skies are expected this evening with patchy fog after midnight.

Lows are likely to be in the mid 50s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph.

Cloudy skies and patchy fog are likely Friday morning. Highs are expected to be in the 60s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph in the afternoon.

 

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